The U.S. Presidential and British Parliamentary Systems
A look at how the systems of the world’s two most stable democracies differ, especially in how they derive their authority from the people.
`Although the need for government to have leadership that provides direction is universal among states, the form that the government leadership assumes varies. Government structure varies significantly between the United States and Great Britain, despite that each is a democracy and share a common history. In fact, the common history of the United States and Great Britain suggests reasons to explain the broad differences between the governments of each respective state. In the wake of the American Revolution, the people of the United States rejected the forms and institutions, most notably a monarchy and Parliament, of British government as well as British sovereignty. Possessing a democratic presidential government, the United States has two separately elected agencies of government. The executive and legislative branches of the United States, the President and Congress, respectively, both derive their power from the people, whereas in Great Britain only the legislative branch, Parliament, derives its power from the people, as the executive is elected by Members of Parliament, thus effectively combining both branches within a single institution. The Parliamentary system in Great Britain and the Presidential system in the United States both have histories marked by an absence of abject failure, yet neither system can be considered truly perfect. Consequently, the analyst cannot conclude that either system is better; rather, he must recognize that there are merits and faults in both systems. The Parliamentary system tends to legislate efficiently, whereas a presidential system tends toward gridlock. However, the presidential system grants both elected representatives and citizens greater influence in government. The Parliamentary system tends to favor Prime Ministers who have much experience, whereas the Presidential system favors Presidents who are responsive to the general will of the people.`